A Nov. 9 hearing date has been set in the first degree murder cases against 2 Guatemalan brothers.

Julio Juarez Ramos and Isidro Juarez Ramos are accused of killing Antonio Lopez Velasquez of Mooreland in May 2009.

Formal arraignments and motion dockets had been set for Thursday in the cases against both men, according to court records.

Assistant District Attorney A. J. Laubhan told The News that during Thursday's court hearing, "the (defense) attorneys indicated they had (additional) motions they wanted to file," which is why District Judge Ray Dean Linder granted a request to set the Nov. 9 hearing.

According to online court records at the On Demand Court Records website (odcr.com), the Nov. 9 hearing was scheduled to consider applications filed by the defense to determine the Ramos brothers' competency.

The website notes that a K'iche' speaker will be provided "either in person or by electronic means" to act as an interpreter for the Ramos brothers who speak little English.  K'iche' is a Mayan dialect spoken in Guatemala.

Both the men's attorneys, which have been provided through the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System, as well as District Attorney Hollis Thorp have said that the Ramos brothers' dialect has led to some language barrier issues in the case.

The defense attorneys have tried to use the language issue to discredit transcripts of police interviews with the Ramos' brothers in which officials have claimed that they confessed to strangling Velasquez on May 16, 2009.

This same language issue helped lead the district attorney to withdraw the death penalty as a possible punishment should the Ramos brothers be convicted.

After a previous hearing back in August, Thorp told The News, "We are still seeking a life sentence.  But because of the language problem and relatives in Guatemala, it could have drawn the case out for years or more. Hopefully this will expedite things."

The reason relatives are an issue is because in cases where the death penalty is being sought, someone, such as a relative, must testify as to why the defendant should be allowed to live, Thorp said.  However, the men's relatives still live in Guatemala, which would make it too difficult to get them to Woodward to testify on their behalf.

Woodward County Sheriff Gary Stanley has said both men are in the United States illegally.

Isidro Ramos and Julio Ramos are accused of strangling Velasquez after allegedly getting into a fight with him over money.  Authorities have said that the brothers confessed to the murder and even showed them where Velasquez's body had been dumped in a rural area south of Mooreland.

The 2 men were arrested when they were found by officers in an Enid parking lot inside Velasquez's Ford Mustang, which officers had been on the lookout for after Velasquez's girlfriend reported him missing earlier that day.

Laubhan said that due to overcrowding of the Woodward County Jail, the suspects continue to be held at the Custer County Jail.

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